AAU has become a huge topic within the high school sports world, as it has developed into a proving ground for aspiring athletes, especially when it comes to basketball. So, if you are an athlete or the parent of an athlete who is considering AAU, you probably want to learn more about what it all entails and whether it is worth it. Let's take a look.
AAU stands for Amateur Athletic Union and is an amateur sports organization based in the United States. It offers over 30 different sports and boasts over 700,000 members nationwide. The organization has surged over the past decade, with most of the players in the NBA having taken part in AAU basketball at some point in their careers. AAU has become an excellent way to showcase your abilities as a young athlete, as it offers more competition than just a high school season. So, this begs the question - is AAU worth it?
Truthfully, if the sport you are looking to play is not basketball, it may or may not be worth it. There are other avenues for sports such as football and baseball in terms of travel leagues, showcases, and camps that will help to gain exposure at the next level without committing to AAU. Exposure is the name of the game, so playing in additional leagues outside of just high school varsity is absolutely beneficial. If you are looking to play basketball at the next level, however, AAU is something that is certainly worth it.
On top of providing additional opportunities to showcase your abilities, the competition at AAU tournaments is often even higher than that of traditional high school games. Since there are not the same rules regarding school zones, you will often see AAU teams featuring the best players from rival teams playing together. This will ramp up the competition level and serve as a truer, more national measuring stick for basketball players looking to make it to the next level.
In the current NBA, almost all of the American-born players played in the AAU circuit at some point in their careers. The most notable player in the NBA who did not play AAU basketball at all was Otto Porter. The tournaments that AAU features are frequented by coaches at all levels within the NCAA, and are a great place to turn heads for aspiring athletes.
There are some players who have criticized the AAU structure, as there are such a high-quantity of games and sometimes there have been questions on whether or not the AAU coaches focus on the fundamentals and playing winning basketball. This emphasizes the point that playing for the right team makes all the difference. It is extremely competitive, but if you are able to find a team that features good coaching and is talented enough to play in larger showcase events, it will absolutely raise your profile as a potential recruit.
So, in short, AAU does offer great opportunities for high school students who are looking to make it to the next level. Outside of crushing it in school and performing during high school seasons, getting additional exposure to college coaches and recruiters is the most important determinant on whether or not you will get a chance to play at the next level.
Logan Furey is a contributing writer to GMTM and a long-suffering DC sports fan. He has never experienced joy as a football fan like he did during RG3's rookie year and is still chasing that feeling 8 years later.